Five Things to Know When You are in a Traffic Accident in Los Angeles, California

Posted by Neil Shouse | Sep 25, 2015 | 0 Comments


The chances are pretty high that at some point you will be involved in a traffic accident in Los Angeles, California. There are some legal rules related to your rights and obligations at the scene of an accident.

  1. You should first ensure that no one is injured.

If no one is injured, all parties (drivers) should exchange information: drivers license numbers (if in possession, or known), vehicle license numbers, names, addresses, and phone numbers of all drivers (passengers if possible), and the names of the insurance companies of the drivers involved. The involved persons should also write down the location where the traffic collision occurred (utilizing cross street names or addresses and street names), and the time it occurred.

  1. It is the policy of the Los Angeles Police Department to complete a traffic collision report under the following circumstances:
  • The traffic collision occurred within the City of Los Angeles.
  • A person involved in the traffic collision has been injured (complaint of
    pain is considered injury) or dies.
  • One of the drivers is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • One of the drivers has fled the location without stopping to exchange information or check on the welfare of the other parties involved.
  • City property is involved (City vehicle, light post, signal post, etc.)

Visit the Department of Motor Vehicles Web page for more information on state reporting requirements for traffic collisions.

  1. The LAPD does not respond to traffic accidents that do not involve injuries.

Involved parties should exchange information (driver's license/insurance company info) and notify their insurance companies. (If injuries are reported, transfer the caller to the Fire Dept. for medical attention)If a caller is reporting a hit and run with no suspect or witness information (i.e. owner parked his car and when he returned his car had sustained visible collision damage however the involved party (suspect) did not leave their name or phone number and there are no witnesses), caller should contact or be transferred to the nearest LAPD Traffic Division located where the accident occurred.

  1. Should officers arrive at the scene, answer their questions truthfully but don't volunteer information unless the authorities ask for specific responses.

You may feel it appropriate to accept responsibility for the accident only to find out later that the other driver was more to blame than you were. If you feel that you are clearly responsible and want to resolve the matter without involving insurance companies, you should probably not sign anything without speaking with an attorney. If there is an issue of driving under the influence you must cooperate with the investigating officers in performing sobriety tests or providing of samples of blood, urine or breath. Should you refuse to do so you may face the loss of your driving privilege.

  1. Even if the police do not come to the scene, you may be required to report the accident to your insurance company or face a denial of coverage at a later date.

Likewise, should the accident result in damage to either vehicle in excess of $750 or in injuries or death, you must report the accident to the DMV or face the possible suspension of your driving privilege. The report to the DMV must be made on their SR-1 form.

If you have been involved in a Los Angeles traffic accident, contact us for a consultation regarding your legal rights in the circumstance.

About the Author

Neil Shouse

Southern California DUI Defense attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT).


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